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Administration & Staff

Governance and Management


Pier Alberto Merli, Ph.D

Pier Alberto received his degree in Philosophy from Florence University and his Ph.D. in Economics and Social Sciences at the European Florence University. He is the Resident Director for Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Rome. He is the Director of Leonardo da Vinci School (School of Italian Language and Culture) Rome. He is a member of Forum of Education and NAFSA. He is a wine expert and sommelier.


GLi Director
Sonia Massari, Ph.D

Sonia Massari is the director of Gustolab International and the Academic Director of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Rome. She holds a degree in Communication Studies at Siena University. She received an M.A in “Web and TV reporting”, an M.A. in “Marketing, CRM and Communication” and she received her Ph.D. in Food Systems and Interaction Design, from the Electronic Engineering Department of the University of Florence (Italy). Since 2004, she has worked for several Education and Communication Agencies and European Commission Research Centers as researcher, evaluator, and professor. She taught at MSU University (NJ) and CUNY (NY). Winner of the Women and Technologies Award 2012 intended for women committed to innovation in food and nutrition. In 2014, Dr. Massari won NAFSA’s TLS KC’s Innovative Research in International Education Award. She actively collaborates with the U.S. and Italy-based international organizations and institutions on food-related issues (BCFN Foundation, ADI Design, WE for Expo, ISIA Design School and Scuola Politecnica di Design).  She teaches “Sustainability Design Thinking” at Roma TRE University. She is part of the ASFS Board. Contact Dr. Sonia Massari ›


Director of Expansion and Development and Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Japan Summer Program Faculty
Steve Nussbaum, Ph.D

Steve Nussbaum, GLI Director of Expansion and Development, has had extensive experience in international education. He received his undergraduate degree at Notre Dame University (USA), an MA from Sophia University (Japan) and his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Cornell University (USA). In addition to faculty appointments, he has held senior appointments in managing and developing International programs at the University of Illinois, the University of New Mexico, Waseda University and Earlham College. At Waseda, he guided the university in the creation of the School for International Liberal Studies. He is now assisting the senior management Gustolab International Food Systems and Sustainability expand their operations in the United States, and to develop field-sites in East Asia and other suitable locations across the globe.


Senior Advisor for Development
Carmelita Nussbaum

Carmelita Nussbaum, GLI Senior Advisor for Development, has an extensive background in international education in the United States and Japan.  She received her undergraduate degree from Webster University (St. Louis) and MA in education from Miami University (Ohio). She has managed university consortia programs in Japan and at Earlham College and has directed educational programs at multiple locations in the United States and Japan.  She is a specialist in learning strategies and challenges.


Program Advisor for GLi
Fabio Parasecoli, Ph.D

Fabio Parasecoli is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Food Studies Initiatives at the New School in New York. Deeply involved in the international food studies movement, he helped establish the Study Abroad Spring program in Rome for the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign; in addition, he is on the advisory board for the MA program in Food Systems at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona, and teaches courses on food and media at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy.  He worked for many years as the U.S. correspondent for Gambero Rosso, Italy’s authoritative food and wine magazine.


CSFI Summer Program coordinator at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Roberto Ludovico, Ph.D

Roberto Ludovico received his MA in Italian Studies from McGill University and his Ph.D. in Italian Studies at Brown University. He is the Director of Italian,  Program Italian Scheduling Officer, he works as Program Liaison to the Italian Consulate in Boston and he is the Director of Forlì Exchange Program, as well Director of Internships in Lombardy Program. His research focuses on Italian and European Modernism, Literature and periodicals of the fascist era, Italo Calvino, the culture and literature of Trieste; Literature and tradition of Italian gastronomy.


CSFI Summer Program Academic Advisor and faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Elena Carbone, Dr.P.H.

Elena Carbone is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of Nutrition, and Founding Director of the Community-Engaged Research Program in Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Elena is a Registered Dietitian who received her Dr.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.S. in Nutrition/ Communications from Boston University. She completed a dietetic internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital and has served as a clinical dietitian at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Nutrition Education Advisor for the Assistant Surgeon General in Washington, DC. In 2004, Dr. Carbone received the College Outstanding Teacher Award; in 2006 and 2014, she was nominated for the University Distinguished Teacher Award. In 2013, she received both the Distinguished Academic Outreach Award in Research and an Exceptional Merit Award (for meritorious performance leading to the achievement of national or international renown in research).


Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Vietnam Summer Program Faculty
Professor Le Hung Anh

Le Hung Anh is Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Environmental Science, Engineering and Management at the Industrial University of Ho-Chi-Minh City in Vietnam. He holds a PhD from Humbolt University in Germany and has done extensive research in Vietnam, Germany, Belgium, Cambodia and Laos. He is a specialist in the cultivation of organic rice, biofertilizers, and biogas, among other topics, and has run training programs for the Vietnam Farmers Union on climate change, global warming and environmental policy. He enjoys working with international students and frequently supervises internship placements for US students. Resume ›


Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Japan Summer Program Faculty
Aiko Tanaka

Aiko Tanaka is a well-known food educator, essayist, and commentator based in Osaka, Japan. Born in Osaka she studied with Chef Akiko Yoshioka. She appears frequently in Japanese and international food media, including Today’s Cooking (kyo-no-ryori) on NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting corporation. She has published multiple cookbooks and her essays appear frequently in both local and national magazines. Her current projects include the design and development of “Halal Washoku” – Muslim-friendly Japanese cuisine, in collaboration with Chef Daisuke Murota, the chairman of the Japanese Cooking Skills Associations of Osaka. She has offered Japanese culinary lessons at multiple locations across the world including New York and Tasmania. In 1999 she opened Lista Culinary School. She founded the Edible Herb Garden Association to build a network for food education at schools in Osaka and served as a consultant to Shoin High School to establish nation’s first high school food studies curriculum. She is currently Professor of Food Studies at Osaka Shoin Women’s University.


Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Japan Summer Program Faculty
Shingo Hamada, Ph.D

Shingo Hamada was a Sawyer Mellon doctoral fellow for food studies at Indiana University in 2012 and is currently a lecturer for food studies in the faculty of liberal arts at Osaka Shoin Women’s University in Osaka, Japan. His initial research focuses on the intersection of colonial history, knowledge production, and indigenous politics in Hokkaido, Japan. His main research explores the coastal environmental anthropology of the North Pacific. He has done fieldwork mainly in Northern Japan including coastal Hokkaido and Tohoku, and also southeast Alaska. His dissertation research used actor-network theory to examine why herring resource recovery project fails despite multiple stakeholders participate in collaborative restoration programs. His current research revolves around the cultural politics of local signature seafood in post-industrial Japan. Specifically, his research on fermented and/or dried seafood explores how local sense and taste of place is negotiated when traditional food culture is reinvented and revitalized with local culinary knowledge and memory, and non-local ingredients. He finished a Ph.D. in anthropology at Indiana University in 2014. After working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, he joined an inaugural food studies program in the faculty of liberal arts at Osaka Shoin Women’s University in 2015.


Program Staff

Programs Coordinator
Daniela Mannino

Daniela Mannino is Programs Coordinator at Gustolab International. She holds a degree in Foreign Languages and Culture at Roma Tre University and a M.A. in Translation at the University of International Studies of Rome. Prior to Gustolab, she was the Programme Coordinator for the B.A. in Global Governance at the University of Rome Tor Vergata e at The Rome Study Center of Richmond. She has worked as Tour Coordinator for EF Education and in the tourism field. She is also a translator and subtitler.


Media, Outreach and Projects coordinator
Salem Paulos

Salem has an 8-year experience in the field of global education. Prior to Gustolab International, she worked as a Student Advisor at CAPA International Education in Florence, Italy.  She also has experience in the field of Social entrepreneurship and Social innovation and has worked as a Fellowship and Venture Development Project Manager at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in Arlington, Virginia. She received her Bachelors of Liberal Arts and Human Science in Family Financial Management at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she initiated community projects addressing the rights of women, international cooperation, access to education, and social entrepreneurship. Contact Salem Paulos › 


Learning Facilitator
KC Ortega

KC is currently finishing “la triennale” at University of Roma Tre where she is studying Modern and Contemporary Languages and Cultures. She is interested in international studies as it allows her to learn new languages and cultures. She also spends a lot of her free time on service learning activities, for example volunteering for Caritas International.


Emergency & Wellness Advisor
Emilia Finizia

Emilia Finizia is an Emergency advisor at Gustolab International. For more than ten years, she has run businesses in tourism, hospitality and management, in Italy and abroad. She has lived and worked in Italy, Denmark, and Brazil.



Bridget Ward

Bridget is a current junior at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, where she is studying Accounting and Finance. She is from Wilton, CT but is spending a semester studying and interning abroad in Rome. She loves to take in the culture that Rome provides through its language, food, neighborhoods, and historic sites. She enjoy going on runs and working out.



Adriana De Franciscis

Adriana is currently studying Food and Wine Sciences and Cultures at the Università degli studi Rome Tre.  She chose this focus to expand and improve her knowledge in the field. In addition to food, her other passions are music, books, cinema, and tv series.  She enjoys sports very much, in particular, football and volleyball, in fact, she has played volleyball for eleven years.


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